Twenty years ago, Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin introduced George Clooney’s batnippled Batman, a pointlessly zombie-like Bane, a pun-happy Arnold Schwarzenegger, the “Bat Credit Card,” and a bunch of other foolishness you’d probably rather forget. The 1997 movie had little in common with most of Schumacher’s other work (The Lost Boys, Flatliners, Falling Down, The Client, A Time to Kill, 8mm, Phone Booth, etc.), and it didn’t quite hit the note of “camp in a good way” either. The Batman franchise went on hiatus until Christopher Nolan rebooted it.
Now in a lengthy interview with VICE, Schumacher spoke candidly about the movie’s poor reception, the sequel he almost made, why Val Kilmer quit, and why the Batsuit had nipples. (Surprisingly, the Batsuit nipples weren’t the reason Kilmer quit.)
He kicked off his interview with an apology: “I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.” He said people reacted “like I had murdered a baby” but, nonetheless, he took responsibility. “I take full responsibility. I walked into it with my eyes open and what I really feel bad about is the crew. […] I feel like their work wasn’t acknowledged like it could have been.”
This isn’t the first time Schumacher has apologized. Back in 2014, he apologized and made a joke at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s expense, telling Variety, “There’s nobody else to blame but me. I didn’t do a good job. George did. Chris [O’Donnell] did. Uma [Thurman] is brilliant in it. Arnold is Arnold.”
The VICE interview was filled with interesting tidbits. For example, Schumacher almost made another Batman movie after Batman & Robin, and he even met with Nic Cage about playing The Scarecrow (!). Speaking of casting, Schumacher explained why George Clooney replaced Val Kilmer. We already knew Kilmer signed on after Micheal Keaton refused to do Batman Forever because, in his words, it “sucked.” Schumacher explained that Kilmer left the project when he was cast in bonkers trainwreck The Island of Dr. Moreau, explaining his departure with, “but man, it’s Marlon Brando.”
Schumacher also finally explained what was up with the can’t-be-unseen nipples added to Batman’s suit, something which George Clooney apologized for in 2014.
By the time Batman Forever came around, rubber molding had become so much more advanced. So I said, let’s make it anatomical and gave photos of those Greek status and those incredible anatomical drawings you see in medical books. [Jose Fernandez] did the nipples and when I looked at them, I thought, that’s cool.
Yeah, that’s… real cool.
You can read the full interview over at VICE.